New Jersey Assembly Democrats:***MULTIMEDIA PACKAGE*** Mazzeo, Andrzejczak & Eustace on Constitutional Amendment to Overhaul NJ's Criminal Justice System, Institute Bail Reform

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***MULTIMEDIA PACKAGE*** Mazzeo, Andrzejczak & Eustace on Constitutional Amendment to Overhaul NJ's Criminal Justice System, Institute Bail Reform

(TRENTON) -- Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), Robert Andrzejczak (D-Cape May) and Timothy J. Eustace (D-Bergen) issued a multimedia package Monday on their legislation that puts a constitutional amendment to overhaul the state's criminal justice system before voters on the November ballot.

The measure (ACR-177) proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would institute much-needed changes to both the pretrial release and detention programs in New Jersey and grant the Legislature the authority to enact these changes through companion legislation signed into law today.

The proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution would authorize a court, under certain circumstances, to order the pretrial detention of a person in a criminal case by changing the current constitutional right to bail.

While eliminating the upfront right to bail, the proposed amendment would still make all persons eligible for pretrial release from jail by either bail or another means. However, an individual's release could be denied by the court based upon concerns that a jailed person, if released, would:
  • Not return to court when required;
  • Be a threat to the safety of another person or the community; or
  • Obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process.
The proposed amendment would also remove superfluous language in the constitution about bail eligibility for death penalty cases because the death penalty no longer exists in New Jersey.

If approved by voters this November, the amendment would take effect on January 1, 2017, allowing the Legislature time to properly establish appropriate procedures, terms, and conditions related to the constitutional changes and providing ample time for their implementation.

The multimedia package consists of a video commentary from the three sponsors and audio and a transcript of same.

The video can be accessed directly via our website -- www.assemblydems.com -- or by clicking here.

The audio file is available upon request.

A transcript of the members' comments is appended below:


Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic):
"Bail is when somebody commits a crime; they go to the court and the judge posted some type of money that they have to pay for getting out and going back on the street, before they go to trial."

Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (D-Cape May):
"Right now, the current bail system in New Jersey is broken, because you have violent offenders that go into the system, and who can afford bail, and are released and, if they're violent, they can be out committing violent crimes again or potentially harassing witnesses to their case that would interfere with the court process.

"At the same time, you have nonviolent offenders, who commit misdemeanor crimes and go into the system, that can't afford bail and are held because they can't afford the bail."


Assemblyman Timothy J. Eustace (D-Bergen):
"The amendment is designed to make it impossible for violent criminals to be released on bail. It doesn't take away any of the federally given constitutional rights that people have. They still have [a right to] a speedy trial. But the problem is, people are released too soon and end up committing the crimes again.

"This is a way to stop that and make it safer for the citizens of New Jersey. A way to make it possible to keep violent criminals in jail."


Andrzejczak:
"It will then be put on the ballot in November and the voters will decide on the constitutional amendment; if they want the change or not. And, if they decide they do, it'll take effect in 2017."

Mazzeo:
"By and large if you look at it, this common sense bill, I think people are going to vote 'yes' and it'll be a plus for our bail system in New Jersey.

"And I think that, what we're doing is, we're taking the bad guys off the street and protecting our families."


Eustace:
"It's never easy to do a constitutional amendment but this idea will make it safer for all of the citizens of New Jersey."

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